Where do I even start!?

I don't even know where to start!  Should I share what my problems are?  Do I share my history with my husband?  How can I help our relationship?  What do I need to know?  What do I need to learn?

I'll start with a little history.  I've been married to my husband for six years now.  We've been together for almost nine.  I suspected ADHD a little while dating.  He couldn't take medication due to his job as a commercial diver.  They wouldn't let him due to liability and not having tested effects on the body while under pressure.  But with his job, he was gone.  A lot!  When he would come home, he just created so much chaos.  I assumed he was just on "vacation mode" as I called it because he worked REALLY hard while he was gone.  Twelve hour days, seven days a week, weeks and months at a time.  So I felt bad if I tried to get him to calm down or not go crazy with the money that he had worked so hard to earn.  His company went out of business and we moved to be closer to family while he went to school.  He is so intelligent and has a high IQ score, but is not passing his classes!  With little money, he has had almost a complete personality change too.  He is angry, mean and completely lacks empathy.  He is controlling and manipulative.  Hearing all that, he sounds awful, but I think either due to ADHD or a completely horrible, nasty, abusive childhood, he is almost completely unaware of his impact on me and our two daughters.  He truly is not the conniving type.  He lives in his own world in his head where every one is always happy and he is always shocked, even as he is being a complete jerk to know that he is upsetting someone.  His solution to all of our problems is to try and make more money again.  He doesn't realize that there were problems even when we had money!  It was better because he was gone all the time so there was less of a chance for the arguing.

He started on medication, but can't remember to take it regularly.  I can tell by 9 AM that morning if he hasn't taken it yet.  He will literally chase the kids, bite playfully, growl and do back flips off the couch.  It's like having an overgrown ten year old son that I did not conceive, yet I can't send him to his room for being out of control because he isn't a kid!  He is supposed to be my husband.  We've been in counseling for about six months but the councilor also has ADHD and is a little chaotic with scheduling and the like but has very empathetic to him and has been really good at mediating arguments and telling him to stop some of the behaviors learned from his abusive father.  But there have been no goals, and where there has been progress, it is so little, it is some times hard to see.  I saw a phrase, "compassion fatigue."  It so describes where I am at!  I am so tired of taking care of him in a mothering way.  I want to be a wife!  Not just a mom!  He has gotten himself into so many scrapes, running out of gas, wrecking cars, (two in the last year!!!) he got himself put in the hospital two weeks ago and literally almost could have died from the bends.  He almost drowned himself about six months ago.  And rather than feeling sad, I just got so angry this last time.  How dare he be so careless with his own life when he has two little girls to think of!  He get's frustrated with me for being exhausted, for being sad that he forgot another holiday, that he did nothing for yet another birthday and tells me I am just an unhappy person and that he can never please me.  I don't think I am a mean person that just completley lacks empathy for him.  I am just getting tired of my "love tank" being drained, sucked dry and NEVER getting even a trickle back from him.

I guess you could say that this is just the tip of the ice burg.  But I am exhausted, depressed and lonely.  I love my husband.  He is a hard worker and does try.  He has no evil intentions and he is always trying to do the right thing.  He's not trying to be a total jerk...  I just don't know what to do.  Where to go.  How to steer our life and our marriage out of chaos and into security, regularity and have some relaxation in my relationship.  Ah, to be relaxed in my own home.  That would be nice.  I am open to whatever at this point! 

Distance makes the heart stay sane

Hello.  I am very sorry you are having to deal with this.  There are many stressors you’ve illustrated that are very hard for the spouse, and the adhd person to deal with.  In some ways your husband and mine are going down similar paths.  Mine also could no longer do the career he liked and was good at, his thumb cartilage deteriorated and you need your thumbs as an electrician.  So he went back to school.  That’s when we discovered the ADHD, because he could not do algebra.  Could not.  He would learn how to do one problem, then forget how on the next, even though it was the same concept.  Meds help with the attention, but they do not teach a new path.  My husband struggled with study skills and waiting until the last minute to do things, meaning he was up all night, while rebuilding bicycles during the day.  So of course no help to our household, and the remodeling projects never finished.

The things I didn’t fully understand at the time were that he was also feeling depressed that he lost his livelihood and that depression made it hard to be a self starter.  It also made him self conscious and increased anxiety.  And the poor life skills since there was little sleep, and he no longer had an active job, or regular meals, meant his ADHD was wildly out of control, even on meds.  So the meds should have been adapted.  And he should have been in counseling or coaching to help show a different path.

Now at least your husband is willing to go to counseling and take meds.  I would suggest that you take a list of things you want to go over into your joint sessions.  I also strongly suggest you get your own counselor that is devoted to your mental well being to help you deal with things.  If husband isn’t going on his own, maybe he should, armed with goals on what to achieve.  Study practices, systems to take medication, reminders for getting things done, being nice to his family.

His medications may also need tweaking.  My husbands were too high, and he added a mood leveler, gabapentin, which has helped a lot.  Exercise, sleep, eating well are also important.  There are many books to help.  For the couple: Loving someone with Attention Deficit, ADHD Roller Coaster and the Melissa Orlov book each provide valuable information.  Roller Coaster is pretty in depth, and Orlov’s provides good strategies.  Totally ADD also has online seminars, and the host comedian Green has a couple accessible PBS specials you can get at the library; ADD and Loving It and Add and Mastering It.  The DVDs are good for the ADHD person to watch since they are entertaining and don’t require reading attention.  Green also takes part in one day relationship seminars with his wife and other presenters, you can see if any are in your area.

Take care of yourself.  Try to identify what must change in order for you to find the relationship acceptable.  Communicate those needs to your husband and give him a deadline (more about this in the books).  Make sure you are responding appropriately to the negative stimuli.  Are you treating him how you would want to be treated? Also in the books.   Do what you can to reduce your stress load.  Try to do stuff you find fun.  Good luck.

ShellyNW, Gabapentin

I am so overwhelmed at this time with anything ADHD, I don't have anything to ADD (pun intended!). I appreciate your insightful comments and concern for this poster, as well as your responses for any of us. Thank you.

My question: I know Gabapentin is used for neuropathy, but I have not heard of its use as a mood stabilizer. Please, tell me what you know.

I sorta still have a sense of humor. That's good, right?

Humor is Critical

Hello Walker824.  Gabapentin is typically used for epilepsy but it has been shown to help with moodiness.  Unfortunately it works best if it's taken through the day, not all that easy for ADD.  It is cheap and has limited side effects.  Unfortunately stimulants can lead to worse mood swings, especially when they have worn off for the day.  Very unpleasant.

Laughter helps immensely!